Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Hi everyone,
Today we sailed from Point Picquet to Quindallup, logging 8nm tacking into a breeze which varied from 15 to 25 knots.  We are now on a mooring at 33 37.48S 115 08.16E in 2.5m of water.

Late yesterday afternoon the S wind which was making the anchorage nice and flat went around to the SE.  The anchorage became a little uncomfortable but not unpleasant.  We had a good night there.

This morning the SE wind became stronger and we decided to head for Quindallup, as had been our original plan.  There was a 1m sea coming through the anchorage by then so it was a good test of our manual windlass.  We got the anchor up quite easily without having to resort to using the engine to drive forward over the anchor.  Amazing how well simply winching up the catenary in the chain works.

Here's our track...

Zen Again track
We started out under motor, added the staysail, hoisted a double-reefed main, replaced the staysail with a well rolled yankee, shook out one reef in the main and finally rolled out more yankee.  All that while heading east.  It was another good test of our sail handling systems and the yankee is easy to reef.  Best of all it works well from fully unrolled to deeply furled with no change in block position.

We had a great tack SSW into Quindallup anchorage.  The SSE wind was very gusty, from 15 over 25 knots we estimated.  Zen Again loved it.

On arrival in the anchorage Andrew from Revision II came over in his dinghy to suggest potential available moorings.  We found one and since then have been relaxing.  The only other yacht here at Quindallup which is part of the FSC New Year Cruise is Koniari.  We expect others will arrive after celebrating the New Year in Bunbury.

Quindallup anchorage
Revision II
We expect to spend two nights here before commencing our return to FSC in stages.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Point Picquet

Hi everyone,
After three nights in Bunbury it was time to move on.  Bunbury has great facilities and a very safe anchorage but you can have too much of a good thing.  Besides, Geographe Bay has far more to offer sailors.  We are now at 33 34.05S 115 05.22E, anchored in 4.5m over sand in crystal clear 23 degrees C water.

We departed Koombana Bay at 0545 this morning.  We were originally planning to anchor off Meelup Beach but on arrival decided to stop at the small bay a little further west - between Gannet Rock and Point Picquet.  The passage took 8 hours and we logged 38nm.  Here are two tracks and our speed profile...

Zen Again track
Detail showing where we are anchored (NW end of red track)
Zen Again speed (flat part => motoring)
Before describing the passage, here are a few pictures from our stay in Koombana Bay...

Diomedia II
Dusky Dolphin
Zen Again
Today's passage was typical for crossing Geographe Bay.  We had a nice 10-15 knot easterly for 2-3 hours and were doing 6-7 knots during that period.  Then the easterly gradually died.  When our boat speed got below 2 knots we decided to motor, and did so for about 90 minutes.  Then a light NW breeze came in which gradually backed around to the W and SW.  Just before anchoring a 15-20 knot S wind came in, and that's what is supposed to persist overnight and tomorrow.

Overall it was a great daysail in very flat water.  It gave us a chance to experiment with sheet block positions for the new yankee headsail.  We think we've got that sorted now.  It's a lovely sail.

Arriving at Point Picquet was amazing.  The water is very clear - at least 20m visibility.  We found very few places in Indonesia with better visibility.

Clear water
Gannet Rock to our east
Point Picquet to our west
After the boat was tidied up we had a very refreshing swim followed by a Bintang.

Trust all's well where you are!

Saturday, 27 December 2014


Hi everyone,
Yesterday we departed FSC at 1800 to sail direct to Bunbury.  This was the start of a couple of weeks cruising in the Geographe Bay area.  We sailed in loose company with Stingrey in an attempt to provide moral support during their first overnight passage.

The passage was 93nm on the log and 96nm over the ground.  It took 21 hours so our average speed was 4.5 knots.  Here are the usual graphics...

Zen Again Track
Zen Again Speed
The leg from FSC to Challenger Passage was as expected - a little choppy but a good sail.  We had 15-20 knots of sea breeze which decreased as time went by.  We started with full main and a few rolls in the new headsail but soon put a reef in the main which was much more comfortable.

Our AIS wasn't behaving itself as we approached Challenger Passage.  In addition to not transmitting our position it wasn't providing other boat positions to our chartplotters, or even GPS data.  As a result we thought Stingrey was close behind us in Challenger Passage but wasn't.

After reaching through the passage we set course SW, close-hauled into a lumpy sea and 15-20 knots of Southerly wind.  It wasn't very pleasant but the boat handled it well.  We tried to keep our speed down so Stingrey would close with us.

After several hours without the wind backing towards the SE we decided to tack and head ESE for a smoother ride and to stay reasonably close to Stingrey.  After an hour of that (at about midnight) the wind  finally backed around to the SE and we tacked to head south.  That felt good!

New Yankee headsail
A different view
The main isn't bad either 
From there we had a very nice close reach south past Mandurah and the Bouvard Reefs.  At about 0800 the wind lightened off and started veering from ESE towards SSW.  Our track shows how we followed it around until we could lay Bunbury harbour.

During that time we were sailing in close company with Divided Sky.  They kept us on our toes!  We ended up with full main and headsail, and gave the new headsail a good workout.  It is a very nice sail - both when fully unrolled and when partially furled.

Divided Sky

Divided Sky, Stingrey and Diomedia II (L-R) in Bunbury Harbour
Amadeus (foreground) left and other vessels

On arrival we gave the stainless a fresh-water wash, had a beer and then crashed.  Overall it was a great sail down.   The first few hours were uncomfortable but the reach south erased that from our memories.

Well done to Stingrey for their first overnight passage!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Yankee, Iridium Go! and Dodger

Hi everyone,
Zen Again has had several Christmas treats.  She is now fully prepared for our upcoming cruise south to Geographe Bay.  She's a very spoiled lady!

The first treat was a new yankee jib from Extreme Sails.  The sail is radial cut from 7.1oz cruising laminate and has foam luff padding and a canvas UV strip.  Looking forward to trying it out - it's fairly big at 33 square metres.

Yankee ready to go
About 4x diameter of the old sail!
Next to arrive was our Iridium Go! which provides phone, text, email and weather data download facilities.  Phone, text and email are supported on up to 5 smartphones/tablets which connect to the device via WiFi.  Weather data download is supported using the PredictWind Offshore app which runs on laptops.

After playing with the unit at home we changed our minds about where best to mount it.  We had planned to mount it out of sight behind the instrument panel but that wasn't a good idea.  Being able to see the unit's display is more than useful.  So it is mounted on the bulkhead in the nav station.

The location of the unit is important for another reason.  Although we have an external antenna for the Iridium satellite signal there is only an internal GPS antenna.  Therefore I mounted the unit close under our fibreglass deck which appears to be working fine.

Here are some photos of the unit in action.

Booting up
GPS locked and searching for Iridium satellite
Downloading a GRIB file
Notice that the internal antenna is open and pointing towards the camera - it is an on/off switch too so must be extended.

So where did we mount the external Iridium signal antenna?  I decided to try mounting it below decks.  This won't give optimal performance but _is_ working.  Not recommended!

"External" Iridium signal antenna
And here's a screenshot of the Offshore app downloading a GRIB file.  The map allows one to define the GRIB area desired and also shows current satellite positions.  Fun to watch!

Using the PredictWind Offshore app
Thirdly Fremantle Ocean Canvas fitted our new dodger today.  It is secured to the forward ring of the mainsheet arch - much neater and provides more protection from the sides.

Perspective view
Aft view
Side view
Happy Christmas and Fair Winds for 2015 to Zen Again and to you all! ;)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Forepeak Makeover

Hi everyone,
During the last week or so we've been refurbishing Zen Again's forepeak.  The original vinyl-covered plywood panels were nearly 30 years old.  Once upon a time they were cream in colour but had become brown with age.  The forepeak cushions were thrown out in Malaysia after their base material started falling apart.  Twas time for a tidy up!

The forepeak in 2010 with panels in place
On removing the panels we realised that not replacing them would give us about 100mm extra width in the V berth.  The inside of the hull isn't faired but we decided to simply paint the hull.  We used Norglass Shipshape Primer/Undercoat.  Two coats gave a nice satin finish.

Cleaned, masked and ready to paint
Bilge repainted too
The forepeak also features two pipe cots.  These are fold-down bunks (cots) formed by canvas-covered aluminium pipe frames.  The canvas was discoloured and becoming brittle.  The frames were corroded in places and were bare metal in others.

We decided to strip and repaint the aluminium frames and have new canvas covers made.  The covers were fabricated by Fremantle Ocean Canvas.

Colour-coordinated lacing
Pipecosts in place

We're still thinking about whether to paint the forward bulkhead.  Not this year!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Rockingham Night Sail

Hi everyone,
On Saturday evening we sailed from FSC to Rockingham in company with Stingrey and Osborne Star.  The weather was perfect for Singrey's first night sail - 15 to 20 knots from the SSW initially and the breeze gradually backed around to the south and decreased to 8-12 knots by 2200.  We had full moon in a completely cloudless sky.

Heading south
On Sunday we returned to FSC in company with Stingrey, Osborne Star, Divided Sky and Aqua Vitae.

Here's our track for the two passages...

Zen Track - tack south, straight back
Zen Speed for the passage south
We really enjoyed the sail south.  Tacking into the wind in flat water is fun.  Our tacking angles look very good on the track once we got into the flat water of Cockburn sound.

Zen Again and Stingrey at Rockingham
Osborne Star at Rockingham
During the sail we discovered a plastic fitting below one of our sinks is leaking, so fixing that is now on the to-do list.  Also the leach cord of our No 2 jib partially pulled out of the sail due to the stitching failing.  The sail is 20+ years old and was cut down from a light No 1 in 2011.  It had no UV strip so we're impressed it lasted so long.  Happily Extreme Sails is building a replacement already!

What did work very well was our boom bag which was recently refurbished by Fremantle Ocean Canvas.  Work included tidying up the zip and removing the aft part of the bolt rope which secures the bag to the boom.  Removing part of the bolt rope allowed us to install slugs to anchor our reefing lines.  Doing so avoids their having to pass around the boom and rolled-up boom tent.  The modification was tested and works very well.

The sail back to FSC was great.  We sailed back with a reef in the main and the No 3 jib.  For much of the trip there was a halo around the sun due to thin cirrus cloud.

Reefing lines no longer pass around the boom
We had this passenger for the whole weekend
Osborne Star
We usually stay out of the channel, but this time we didn't have a choice...

Staying out of the channel for traffic!

Twas a great weekend - perfect weather and fantastic sailing!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Round Rottnest via Stark Bay

Hi everyone,
We had a great weekend with the FSC Cruising Section "Round Rotto Cruise".  Seven yachts took part, with all but one staying overnight in Stark Bay.

Zen Again at Stark Bay (sv Amadeus photo)
Here's our track...

Zen Again track
Zen Again speed (stop in Stark Bay in middle)
We departed from the VIP jetty where Zen Again had been the "demo" boat for a safety talk on Thursday evening.

Zen Again alongside VIP jetty
We all departed FSC on Saturday morning and had a great reach across to the windmills in a 15 knot SW breeze.  From the windmills we were hard on the wind along the south side of Rottnest in a 10-15 knot breeze.  There was a 3m swell running and the sea was quite confused until we passed Parker Point.  From there to Cape Vlamingh the sea was more regular.

Rounding Cape Vlamingh
From Cape Vlamingh to Stark Bay was a quiet broad reach.  Watching the 3m swells "wrapping around" the cape and breaking on the shoals was interesting.  The entrance to Stark Bay is quite dramatic when a swell is running but we all got in without problems.

Stingrey anchoring
Cruise Leader Panache II on its mooring
Osborne Star
We spent a somewhat uncomfortable afternoon aboard as the swell surged over the reef and had us rolling more than we'd prefer.  At 1700 everyone went ashore for sundowners.

The fleet from the beach
Cruise Leader Kim presents all-purpose coat hangers to new cruisers
On Saturday evening I did some more testing of the HF radio Winmor system.  We managed to connect to the Winlink station RK0LXA.  Where are they?  Vladivostok in Russia!

Talking to Vladivostok
Winmor Session Transcript
We slept very well on Saturday night.  The swell gradually died down overnight (and the tide fell too).

On Sunday morning we had a great bacon & eggs breakfast and then took it easy until 1000 when we readied the boat for the sail home.  We followed Stingrey out of the anchorage and then had a great sail back in close company with them.  We had a great wind - 20-25 SSW.  Zen Again loved it with one reef and several rolls in the yankee.

Zen Again approaching (photo by Stingrey)
Zen Again overtaking (photo by Stingrey)
Stingrey well reefed and tramping along
Twas a great weekend.